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3 Luglio 2019

Discovering the “Fetta di polenta”

Designed by the famous architect Alessandro Antonelli, its real name is Casa Scaccabarozzi and its side is only 54 centimeters long

Alessio Colella (translation by Chiara Gariglio)

Fetta di polenta

Fetta di polenta – via Giulia di Barolo

Turin, 1840. The city is expanding and enjoying a golden age in the town planning sector. These are the years of the Savoy, the ones immediately prior to the Unification of Italy. Among the architects of this period there is Alessandro Antonelli, who later designed the Mole, symbol of the capital of Piedmont today.
In 1843 he married a noblewoman from Cremona, Francesca Scaccabarozzi. He was member of the Società Costruttori di Vanchiglia (a construction company) and for his work he was rewarded with a small triangular strip of land between corso San Maurizio and via Giulia di Barolo.
Having failed the negotiations for the purchase of the nearby land, he decided, perhaps as a challenge, to build a multi-storey building on his small plot of land. And so Casa Scaccabarozzi was built.

We asked the architect Fabrizio Graffi to discuss the technical features of Antonelli’s building: “It is a very special and unique building. It blends nicely into urban architecture, but its dimensions are far from usual. The Fetta di Polenta measures about 16 meters on via Giulia di Barolo, 4.35 meters on corso San Maurizio and in its narrowest point just half a meter. The height of the building – he continues – reaches 24 meters, considering only the seven floors above the ground. It also has two further underground floors and therefore very deep foundations, which helped to keep the building alive after the explosion of the Regia Polveriera in 1852 and the earthquake some thirty years later”.

Casa Scaccabarozzi was built in several stages and it took until 1881 to see the nine floors of the building completed. Having won the challenge, Antonelli gave the result of his work to his wife, hence the name Scaccabarozzi.
Given the particular trapezoidal shape and the yellow color of the building, it was soon given the name Fetta di Polenta (slice of polenta). However, the most skeptical believed that, given its unusual characteristics, the building would have soon collapsed. Some even believed that the architect had made a deal with the devil to receive help in carrying out the project. Antonelli, then, decided to move inside for some time to prove the safety and seriousness of his work.
For years it has been home to Caffè del Progresso, a historic meeting place for Carboneria secret society members and revolutionaries; today, after having passed from owner to owner, Casa Scaccabarozzi is used as a home-gallery, where you can privately view the contemporary art installations inside.


In collaboration with Study in Torino


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